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A good start

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:01:00 03/31/2008

Filed Under: Climate Change, Environmental Issues, Board Exams, Laws

MANILA, Philippines - The greater part of Metro Manila went dark last Saturday night as it joined the world in observing Earth Hour, a global movement to promote awareness of climate change. It was a good start, but probably next time Earth Hour should be observed nationwide to bolster national awareness of the need for conservation in a country that is notorious for being a spendthrift with its natural resources.

Earth Hour as a global movement was launched in Australia last year. This year, Sydney was able to get 2.2 million people and 2,100 business establishments, including the iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera House, to shut off all their lights for a full hour.

In Metro Manila, Earth Hour was something of a novelty and had its soft, lovely side: In some restaurants on Roxas Boulevard, casual dinners and coffee drinking became candlelit affairs and couples strolling on the Baywalk or sitting on park benches cuddled up a little closer while the lights were out.

We are all for candlelit dinners, of course, for they bring back memories of the days of gentility when Manila was the Pearl of the Orient and one of the loveliest cities in this part of the world. But next time, the organizers of Earth Hour should do some hard sell and conduct a nationwide multimedia campaign to promote awareness of climate change and the need to adopt conservation measures to preserve the Earth and save humanity from its destructive ways. We are sure there are many media and nongovernmental organizations that will join such an informational effort.

Awareness of climate change has to be promoted not only in Metro Manila but also in the other cities and in the rural areas. For as Yeb Sano of the World Wide Fund for Nature said, ?Climate change is still a highfalutin concept to Filipino homes, so this movement is to bring the issue to the ordinary people and make them aware that it is not science fiction anymore.?

It might be a good idea, for instance, to hold free showings of Al Gore?s ?An Inconvenient Truth? in town plazas or auditoriums a day before Earth Hour. People have to be made aware that climate change is a life-and-death issue. We have been our own worst enemies and we have to change our ways if we are to preserve our planet Earth and humanity.

* * *

Misplaced interest

It is hard to understand why, up to now, so much fuss is made about the yearly bar examinations. Before the exams, elaborate arrangements are made in putting up the examinees in hotels and attending to all their needs so that they can concentrate on their final review. On the day of the tests, cheering squads and small bands lend a fiesta atmosphere to the occasion as the candidates file into the examination rooms.

On the day the results are announced, the place where the names of the successful examinees are posted is a stage for various reactions to triumph and tragedy. The list of the successful examinees, with the names of the 10 topnotchers in the lead, invariably makes it to the front pages of newspapers.

The great importance placed on the bar exams in the early days of the Commonwealth and the Republic was understandable because lawyers were needed to fill important posts in both the government and private sectors. But now the country has an oversupply of lawyers, and the Philippines possibly ranks up there with the United States as one of the most litigious countries in the world. Now that we are engaged in a serious effort to develop our nation economically and socially, what we need are not more lawyers but more scientists, engineers, economists, managers, technologists.

The United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and France developed at a fast pace because of their scientists, engineers and technologists. The same is true with the leading Asian countries like Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan. These countries are now highly developed not because of their lawyers (although lawyers do contribute to their orderly societies) but because of their scientists, engineers, technologists, economists and managers.

A civilized society cannot exist without people who will help maintain law and order. But we could accelerate the economic development of our country if we gave more attention to science, engineering and technology, encouraged more of our children to take courses in these areas of study and sent more of our people abroad for advanced training in these disciplines.

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